Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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O Little Town of Bethlehem
by Tom Goodman
December 12, 2007

Almost a third of people in the UK do not know the town of Christ's birth, according to a recent survey.

The question was one of several questions about Bible knowledge.  Eighty-five percent correctly identified what Christians celebrate on Easter (Christ's resurrection).  About three-fourths of the respondents knew that Adam was the first man in the Bible, and almost as many could name the four gospels that begin the New Testament.  Seventy percent correctly identified Jesus' race (Jewish).

According to the Gospel of Matthew, Christ's birth in the town of Bethlehem was in fulfillment of prophecy.  We're going to look at that prophecy from Micah this Sunday:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.

The prophecy communicates the secret of true strength and security.  You see, in Micah's day, God's people learned a bitter lesson about placing their ultimate trust in human means of security.  Instead of depending on God, they trusted in their walls, their troops, and their unholy alliances with pagan nations.  Soon, the southern kingdom of Judah became a cringing vassal state of Assyria.

But Micah made this promise to his people:  One day God would save his people, but not through their walls, troops, and pacts.  Instead, God would act in a tiny town through the birth of a tiny baby.

Have you discovered the source of true strength and security?  We can learn it at Christmastime.  The Christmas story is about an insignificant carpenter taking his fragile pregnant wife to his no-account hometown where she gave birth and put her child in a cattle trough for his first crib.

The Christmas story is a story about God's strength displayed in human frailty.  In fact, the more you read the Bible -- and the more you experience God personally -- the more you realize that's the path God most often takes.  My greatest strength can prove useless if I have not placed my trust in the Lord; my greatest weakness can become a source of power if my trust is found in God.

Join us for this important study this Sunday morning, December 16, at the 9:30am "Bold Blend" service or the 10:45am "Smooth Blend" service, or listen online Monday (iTunes; website).  And be sure to join us at 6:00pm this Sunday for our Festival of Christmas Music!

What to Do with The Golden Compass?  Send my take on The Golden Compass as an email to friends.

Upward Basketball and Hillcrest Hoops.  We have 230 players registered!  We've had such great response that we've had to close registration for 1st- and 2nd-grade boys teams.  However, we still have openings on the 1st- and 2nd-grade girls teams as well as 4th- through 6th-grade teams for girls and boys.  We'll take registration until December 17.  Go to our website, or stop by the church office.

Israel Trip.  The deadline for your deposit is 2 weeks away!  Learn more about our pilgrimage to the Holy Land here.

Celebrate This Season!  Make time for the Christmas Festival of Music December 16 at 6pm, and then our Christmas Eve Service December 24 at 6pm.  More information at our website.

Church Leadership Summit.  Come Sunday, January 6, 5:30-7:00pm for a practical and inspirational 90 minutes that will help you start a new year of church leadership!  This Summit is for every position of service in the church: greeters, deacons, teachers, Common Ground hosts, children's workers -- if you serve our church, you should be part of this important event.  You will learn how you fit in the overall strategy of our church, and you will identify practical steps to fulfill that strategy in 2008.  This strategy will be presented to all of our leaders before the congregation hears it in February.

Drop By the Blog, Leave a Comment.  At my weblog, "Get Anchored," every Sunday I post a new "Song of the Week" (A new series on Advent continues with "Mary Did You Know?" by Kathy Mattea), what to think about a Mormon running for president, a leadership series (Part One) on the cure for cultural intimidation, information about an important missions study, more resources for talking about The Golden Compass, and still more jonesin' for an overlooked generation.

Do you know friends who would appreciate Winning Ways?  Just forward this e-mail to them!

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